Case Study


Our rider is a capable rider, who has mastered the technical skills of riding. She has been riding since her childhood and is happy, relaxed and confident when in the saddle.

To take her riding performance to the next level she asked to have her posture and body alignment assessed both in and out of the saddle.

Here is a summary of the main findings from the assessment. It includes mention of the direct impact the riderís posture has on her horseís ability to perform at his best.

Our findings included a number of postural bad habits and misalignments that the rider was carrying around with her through life. Of course, they carried through to when she rode and each one has a dramatic impact on her effectiveness in the saddle.

Below is the Corrective Action Plan designed specifically to address this riderís physical needs.

Assessment of Riderís position:


Our rider collapses to the left, dropping the right shoulder and lifting the left hip. Her left arm is low and straight. The head is held slightly towards her left shoulder. The weight is shifted to the right. Her left leg is rotated to the outside.

Assessment of Horse:


The horse resists against the left hand causing him then to hollow and tense through the jaw neck and over the topline therefore losing swing relaxation and rhythm. Has a tendency to load the left shoulder and drift out of the right shoulder. Occasionally he strikes off on the incorrect leg into left canter.

Riders Standing Postural Assessment

Restrictions identified:


Thoracic spine side bent left and rotated right

  • short left lateral flexors
  • short right rotators

Left scapula protracted and left shoulder anterior

  • decreased shoulder girdle stability on left, internal rotators short on left
  • short anterior deltoid and pec major left

Left pelvic anterior tilt

  • due to anatomical short leg on right
  • Increased tension in left anterior psoas
  • Decreased activity in vmo right and therefore reduced stability and patella tracking causing tension in iliotibial band and reduction in firing of gluteus medius and over activity of right piriformis.

Using the protocol of layering prescriptive exercises we will begin by removing the above areas of tension and increasing movement at the restricted joints whilst introducing stability work at the same time.

The Riderís Action Plan:-

In cases such as this the rider will benefit from learning how to make the following corrections:-

  • Straighten and stablise her upper body
  • Lower Shoulders down and back to activate the stabilising muscles
  • Carry hands at equal and even height instinctively
  • Balance weight equally in the saddle, through both sit bones
  • Prevent lower legs rotating outwards
  • Maintain even height of her hips
  • Increase her bodily awareness to know when her hip is raised, shoulder dropped, arm straight etc.

Action Plan Ė Recommended moves to reduce postural faults:

Exercise #1: The 100: to increase spinal stability

Exercise # 2: Spine Twist Right: To increase rotational mobility through the thorasic area of the spine and lengthen the internal rotators on the left.

Exercise # 3: Side Bend Right: To lengthen the left internal rotators and the left lateral flexors.

Exercise # 4: Arm Circle Left: To lengthen the left internal rotators and lengthen anterior deltoid and pec major.

Exercise # 4: Quadriceps Stretch: To address decrease activity of the Vastus medialis oblique and the Iliotibial band (quadriceps which are the muscles that run down the front of the thigh



By following a routine of exercises such as those listed above will assist in correcting the postural dysfunctions of our rider. This will enable her to transmit the correct messages through the seat/saddle to the horse as she rides, creating effective communication and harmony between horse and rider.

How Can She Expect To See More Softness From Her Horse?

When the rider sits on both seat bones equally and the left side collapse straightens and corrects itself, and, when the left shoulder stabilizers function correctly Ė then the riderís left hand will soften. This softening of the riderís hand will relieve tension down the rein. This in turn is felt immediately by the horse who will soften through the left. Once Ďsoftí and working with acceptance he will be able to step underneath the riderís right seat bone rather than run away from the pressure of it.